One of Hollywood's most private and guarded leading men, Andy Garcia has created a few iconic characters while at the same time staying true to his acting roots and personal projects. Born on April 12, 1956 in Cuba, Garcia's family was relatively affluent. But when Fidel Castro came to power, the family fled to Miami Beach when Andy was only 5. Forced to work bad jobs for a time, the Garcia family then built a million-dollar fragrance company from scratch. Andy was a popular student in high school, a good basketball player and good-looking. But when his senior year saw him battling mononucleosis and hepatitis, he turned his attention to acting. He first began acting at Florida International University. But soon he was headed out to Hollywood. His first break came as a gang member on the very first episode of the popular TV series "Hill Street Blues" (1981). His role as a cocaine kingpin in 8 Million Ways to Die (1986) put him on the radar of Brian De Palma who was casting for his gangster classic The Untouchables (1987). At first he envisioned Garcia as Al Capone's sadistic henchman Frank Nitti, but fearing typecasting as a gangster, Garcia campaigned for the role of George Stone, the Italian cop who gets accepted into Elliot Ness's famous gang of lawmen. Garcia's next notable role came in Black Rain (1989) by acclaimed director Ridley Scott as the police partner of Michael Douglas. He then partnered with Richard Gere in Internal Affairs (1990) directed by Mike Figgis. In 1989, Francis Ford Coppola was casting for the highly anticipated third installment of his "Godfather" films. The Godfather: Part III (1990) included one of the most sought after roles in decades, the hot-headed son of Sonny Corleone and mob protege of Michael Corloene, Vincent Mancini. A plum role for any young rising star, the role was campaigned for by a host of actors. Val Kilmer, Alec Baldwin, Vincent Spano, Charlie Sheen, and even Robert De Niro (who wanted the role changed to accomodate his age) were all beaten out by the up and coming Andy Garcia. His performance was Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actor, and secured international stardom and a place in cinematic history. Now a leading man, he starred in such films as Jennifer Eight (1992) and Hero (1992). He won raves for his husband role to Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) and gave another charismatic gangster turn in Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995). He then returned in Night Falls on Manhattan (1997) directed by Sidney Lumet as well as portraying legendary mobster Lucky Luciano in Hoodlum (1997). In perhaps his most mainstream role, he portrayed a cop in the action film Desperate Measures (1998). Garcia then starred in a few misses a few lower-profile projects, but things turned around in 2001 with the first of many projects being Ocean's Eleven (2001) directed by Steven Soderbergh. Seeing his removal from Cuba as involuntary, Garcia is proud of his heritage which influences his life and work. One such case is his portrayal of renowned Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval in For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000) (TV). He is an extremely private man, and strong believer in old-fashioned chivalry. Married to his wife Maria Victoria since 1982, the couple has three daughters and one son. One of the most talented leading men around, Garcia has had a unique career of staying true to his own ideals and thoughts on acting. While some would have used some of the momentum he has acquired at different points in his career to get rich off lightweight projects, Garcia has stayed true to stories and films that aspire to something more. But with a presence and style that never seem old, a respect from directors and film buffs alike, Andy Garcia will be remembered for a long time in film history.
He currently lives in Toluca Lake, California with his wife Marivi Lorido and their four children.
More fun stuff about Andy Garcia
Height 5' 11" (1.80 m)
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#65). 
Family emigrated to the USA in 1961.
Father of three girls and one boy.
Was born as a conjoined twin. His twin was no bigger than a tennis ball and was surgically removed. All that remains is a scar on his shoulder.
Refuses to do nude scenes. He once walked out of a audition when asked to remove his shirt.
Gained weight when his wife was pregnant with three of their children.
Children: Dominik, Daniella, Alessandra and Andres
Fact: Owns 25 conga drums, collects hats, and wears a beret in the winter.
Son, Andres Antonio Garcia-Lorida, was born Monday, January 28, 2002 in Los Angeles, tipping the scales at 7 pounds, 13 ounces.
Actor Mickey Rourke was his little league baseball coach in Miami.
His daughter, Alessandra Andrea Garcia-Lorido was born on June 20, 1991 in Los Angeles, California.
Is said to be very protective of his family's privacy.
His personal quotes:
"You are defined by who are, by your choices in life, in all regards, not just in doing movies."
"Freedom is not negotiable."
"They say a lot of women would like to see me naked, but there's not a lens long enough for that."
Andy Garcia's Twisted Interview
Defining his character
Andy Garcia usually does his work in supporting roles. He was the target of Ocean’s 11, married into The Godfather’s family and gave Meg Ryan a shoulder to cry on. His lead roles have usually been in smaller films like The Man from Elysian Fields and the upcoming Modigliani. So, Twisted offers another supporting Andy Garcia.
Garcia plays Ashley Judd’s new partner, who goes from questioning her culpability in a series of murders to being a suspect himself. The film is directed by The Right Stuff’s Philip Kaufman and also stars Samuel L. Jackson.
The first thing Andy Garcia did when he entered the room was turn over the picture of Twisted because he didn’t want to see his face. “I just don’t like staring at myself,” Garcia said. “Every time I look it’s [inaudible] looking at me. It’s disconcerting when you drive by and see yourself on a bus stop.” So, with all offensive materials turned away, we could begin the interview.
Were there multiple endings for the film since there were so many possibly guilty parties? Before we started, they chased different endings. Because this was a movie done with a studio, even if you have an idea, it has to go up the ladder and kind of come back down the ladder. If you want to change the ending or something, you have to go through a lot of permutations, so I know that the ending of the movie was different in the script that they sent me. And it was one of my main notes to Phil when I read the script, and he called me and I said, “Listen, the script’s got a few things,” and he said, “Yes, I’m working on that.” One of the things that Phil did was incorporate the element of the sea, the wharf, and when he said that, immediately I said, “What if my character comes from that world?” And he said that would be great, because it will open the film up to another whole visual aspect. But that takes a while for that idea to go up the chain of command and go back to the studio for them to say yes, and then, “let’s see some pages.”
How do you respond to the end result of projects when they turn out differently than you expect? As you get older, you have more wisdom about those things. Because of the nature of the genre too, in terms of studio movies, it’s so particularly driven by sort of pace and commerce, so you’ve got to know going in that it’s going to be cut in a very lean way, very aggressively, and you have a bit more of a philosophical stance on it. The things that disappoint me are, in any movie, where they ignore human behavior in the process of chasing the pace of a movie, because I really feel like the resonance of movies has to do with those moments between the characters. So that’s the thing I always fight for and make suggestions about. Like I watch the dailies, I stay on top of it, not only mine, but everybody’s performance, so later on I can be of service to Phil or anyone who’s directing, like “You should look at that other take” or “look at that scene.” In this movie, I tried to be a service to Phil, to give him as much raw material to work with as possible so he can cut the movie many different ways, or manipulate my character, because I knew that my character had to function from a story point, it could be cut sort of many different ways. One of the things I tried to give him and the movie was to give him several options in each scene, options of culpability, of suspicion, not suspicion, warmth, cold, whatever it was. It’s really if you make a decision one way and that doesn’t work, then you’ve got nothing, you have nothing to manipulate the movie with, and ultimately this genre is a manipulative type of genre.
Is it harder giving several different performances in a single role? I didn’t have to. I did it because I knew, just through my own experience with these genre things, sometimes in the editing room you go, “Oh, if I could only have a smile” or “If I could only have a look” or this kind of thing. And also the nature of this character’s function in this story, there’s an ambiguity to it, and that’s important to play. So it’s more about the levels of the ambiguity, how much you give away, and how much you let Phil be the barometer of that, because it’s really about how the movie is turning out as opposed to your intellectual idea where the exact barometer of that ambiguity should be in this particular scene. On the day, it could be this thing, and the movie defines itself when it starts coming together, so you want to give like degrees.
Was it discussed or was it done independently? It was more of a conspiracy between me and Phil saying that once we sort of figured out what my function really was going to be in the movie. From the first script and the ending, and how that all came together, my character redefinee himself. Then I said to him, in these particular instances, I’m going to give you different things that you can play with, and we were synchronized on that.
Is that the difference between being part of the team and being the lead? Well, I’m always a team player. It doesn’t change at all. In fact, I think that the protagonist ultimately is the main supporting actor in the movie, because you’re there every day, and you have new actors coming in, for one scene, three scenes, and you sort of have to be the host to them. You can’t be aloof from them. You’re going to get your work from them. They’re usually a catalyst in your journey, so the sooner you are inclusive of them, and respectful and generous and so forth, the stronger the base for any kind of antagonism or anything because it’s all based on the work, and a mutual respect. So at that point you can stop pushing each other’s buttons because you’re doing that together as a unit, it’s not a kind of a distance thing or an aloofness with you guys. None of that has any place in the work. So I always find that’s the guy who has the responsibility to make people welcome.
What can you share about Ocean’s 12? [I start] April 12th. I play the same character.
Is it as big a role as last time? Yeah, an integral part in the movie. I can’t tell you what the story is, but let’s just say I’m still after him.
How difficult is it to keep an even balance in story for an ensemble cast? It’s a juggling act, but we seem to have done it well in the first one, and this script is in very good shape. It’s very funny, and I think everyone goes to the movie knowing their function in the movie, you know?
Where does it take place? They go to Rome and to Amsterdam.
Did you know the script was originally designed to be a different movie? I don’t know. From what I’ve read, I couldn’t see how it was anything other than following the first one.
Andy Garcia Discusses "Ocean's 12"
Way back in October 2002, I did an interview with Andy Garcia for a movie he'd just completed called "The Man From Elysian Fields." During that interview, I brought up the possibility of an "Ocean's 11" sequel and asked Garcia his thoughts on the possibility of reuniting with writer/director Steven Soderbergh and the rest of the "Ocean's" gang. Garcia shared how he was eager to get back together with that ensemble of actors, and now that "Ocean's 12" is being released, Garcia's seems extremely content to have been given the chance to work with Soderbergh and the group for the 2004 sequel.
Garcia was dressed to the nines for the Hollywood Premiere of "Ocean's 12," a star-studded event held at Grauman's Chinese Theater in front of hundreds of enthusiastic fans. All smiles, here's what he had to say about working on "Ocean's 12" and his upcoming film, "The Lost City:"
INTERVIEW WITH ANDY GARCIA ('Terry Benedict'):
How quickly did you say yes when they called to ask you about "Ocean’s 12?"
Oh, very quickly.
Did you have to see the script?
Did it matter the size of the role?
No, not at all.
What was life like on the set? Did you get into any of the hijinks?
Well I didn’t go to Europe with them but I lived vicariously through them, knowing what was going on.
So you heard a lot of good stories?
Any you can share?
No, not really. I know that it’s a group of guys that gets along very well so they try to have fun. They work hard and then they play hard.
Even with this big group of A-List stars, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s ego gets in the way. What makes this group so different in that respect?
These people don’t take themselves too seriously that way. They really are, they’re actors first and then stars as a by-product of that. So it’s not a crowd that brings that to the table.
Would you do an “Ocean’s 13?”
If Steve calls, I’m there.
Could you possibly be one of the thieves?
Who knows what they would come up with. I’m good either way – I could either kill them or join them (laughing). It doesn’t matter.
And you also have a project coming up that you directed, correct?
Right. I directed it while they went to Europe.
How did that go and when will it be released?
Very good. I’m very proud of it. Maybe at the end of next year. We’re still in post in it. It takes place in Havana at the turn of the Revolution in 1958, 1959.
Is this a story you’ve been trying to tell for a while?
Yes, very much so.
Andy Garcia: The Reluctant Star
Actor Andy Garcia chooses Roles that rouse his Passions and Cement his Reputation as one of Hollywood's most likable NonConformists
Flee your homeland when you’re five years old, never to return. Grow up hearing of a life lost in Cuba, of a country that over the years fades into a collage of mirages, of a land that when mentioned brings tears to your eyes. Imagine that personal journey, and you may glimpse some of what makes actor Andy Garcia who he is. You begin to understand why he’s been struggling for 10 years to finance a film called The Lost City about Havana in the years before Fidel Castro’s revolution.
“You have certain scars from when you were 10 years old. You carry those scars with you and subconsciously you make decisions off of those things,” Garcia says. “There is a reason I want to tell the story of The Lost City. America has given me an extraordinary opportunity to explore my dreams, and my father made great sacrifices for me to have that opportunity. That’s why we left the country that we loved, because freedom is not negotiable.
“I only get involved in things that I get stoked about,” says Garcia, trying to explain a project like The Lost City, which was written by exiled Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante. “When I see material that I get passionate about, I go with it.”
That’s Garcia’s career in a nutshell. In the late 1980s, while in his early 30s, the Cuban-American actor had Hollywood in the palm of his hand. Roles such as federal agent George Stone in 1987’s The Untouchables, opposite Kevin Costner and Sean Connery; as investigator Raymond Avila in 1990’s Internal Affairs, opposite Richard Gere; and as hotheaded Vincent Mancini in The Godfather: Part III the same year put him on the fast track to superstardom. He inherited the thinking woman’s sex symbol mantle from Clark Gable, Connery and Al Pacino. He was considered for nearly every action hero or sexy male lead in big-budget movies at the time. His celebrity seemed sudden, and, to him, overwhelming. Not that the brush with fame was not enticing. Garcia had endured years of struggle and rejection in Hollywood, often with hints about or even direct barbs at his ethnicity, before he scored what he considers his first major role as Ray Martinez in The Mean Season in 1985. In the end, he didn’t succumb to the lure of easy money and fame.
“It’s always been my nature to shy away from overexposure, and the first onslaught of fame, when it came from those pictures, I did not embrace it. I went the other way,” Garcia says. “I felt that you lose something; there’s a price you pay by just letting yourself into that world. They might pay you a lot of money, but…you ask, is it really what you want? I did not become an actor to do those kinds of movies.”
Sporting a well-worn, bulky tan coat, Garcia runs his fingers through his thick tousled hair. Even as he talks, the surroundings echo his words. He sits in the backyard of a small bungalow in a residential neighborhood in Sherman Oaks, California, out in the valley, over a range of hills from Beverly Hills. This modest home, which now houses his production company, Cineson, was the place where he raised his family until a few years ago. You could drive by and miss it, sitting amid a long row of single-story, ranch-style homes on a tranquil street.
But the quiet persona, and the devotion to smaller, independent-style movies, doesn’t mean that Garcia shuns big-studio movies with star-studded casts and subjects designed to appeal to mass-market audiences. He played casino executive Terry Benedict in 2001’s gambling heist remake Ocean’s 11, opposite George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, and this April he begins filming its sequel, Ocean’s 12, with the same cast plus a still-secret extra cast member. And, he can currently be seen in the Paramount release Twisted with Ashley Judd and Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Judd plays Jessica Shepard, a homicide detective whose past lovers wind up dead. Garcia portrays her partner, Mike Delmarco, who, along with the police commissioner (Jackson), begins to believe she may be the serial killer. “So I try not to sleep with [her],” Garcia says with a grin.
Garcia decided to take the part in the thriller after getting a call from the director, Philip Kaufman, whose last film was the critically acclaimed Quills in 2000. “For me, it was all about Phil Kaufman. He’s done some extraordinary films—The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Right Stuff. It was an opportunity to watch someone work, and collaborate with someone who I’m a fan of.”
For Garcia, it is always about the material, or the director, or the challenge. Those motivations led him to Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s 12. “You’re working with Steven Soderbergh, a great director. You’re working with Warner Brothers and great actors and a great script, and everything is there. Don’t get me wrong. There’s great value in that. It makes the journey more interesting. But there’s no mystery in the destiny of that film,” Garcia says.
His star-making turn as Vincent Mancini in The Godfather: Part III garnered him his first Oscar nomination in 1991 for Best Supporting Actor. But even with the critical acclaim, Garcia is more concerned with the moviemaking process than what happens when it’s finished. “I haven’t seen that movie since 1992,” Garcia says. “The real memories you have are not about the final product, but the process is the memory you take with you. I remember the whole film, the making of the movie. It’s about the relationships and it’s about your life. Life is what happens while you’re making a movie.”
However, Garcia’s relationship with Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola is more than just a memory. The experience changed Garcia’s life, and to this day, Coppola remains a friend, a mentor and a go-to guy for Garcia.
The relationship developed slowly. Garcia was completing Internal Affairs when Paramount president Frank Mancuso suggested he pursue the role of Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son in The Godfather: Part III. “But you know with Francis, being suggested by the studio wasn’t exactly the best part to play,” Garcia says. He first put his name in the hopper in May 1990, and it wasn’t until August that he was asked to meet with Coppola.
Nearly a month went by after their meeting, and Garcia kept asking his agent to find out why other actors such as Val Kilmer and Alec Baldwin were being screen-tested, but he wasn’t. Finally, he was invited to visit Coppola at the Niebaum-Coppola winery in Napa Valley, California. He met with the legendary director, who gave Garcia instructions and scenes to act out. That night, the power went out at the estate and Garcia scrambled to find candles just to be able to read his lines. Nevertheless, he felt the screen test went well, and Fred Roos, a casting director and longtime Coppola collaborator, invited him to stay in Napa for dinner with Coppola that night. “Fifteen minutes later, Roos said ‘Never mind, go home to Los Angeles, and we’ll be in touch,’ ” Garcia says, with a laugh. But at 8 the next morning, Garcia’s agent called and said he had the part, instructing him to report for rehearsals the following Monday morning. “He [Coppola] waited until the end to test me, and then he gave me the part,” Garcia says.
“Francis inspires you to dream,” says Garcia. “There’s a Robert Browning quote that ‘man’s reach should be greater than his grasp. What’s a heaven for?’ Francis inspires you to go out and try things. That’s why he inspired a great director in his daughter [Sofia]. He has that effect on you.
“I see [Coppola] as the man on the mountain you go to for advice and knowledge,” adds Garcia. “He’s done it for me. I’ve shown him movies and he’s taken time out to sit in a cutting room for 48 hours straight, to talk about it philosophically, and why is that scene there, and why are you going there.”
Garcia says that he was just beginning to think about making The Lost City when he met Coppola. He has often said about making The Godfather: Part III: “I went into that movie an actor and I came out of it a filmmaker.” He credits Coppola with instilling his desire to direct.
“That’s why I began to pursue that aspect of my life more aggressively,” says Garcia. To date, the actor has produced and directed documentaries, dramas and thrillers but The Lost City will be his directorial debut. “There were some other opportunities that I’ve had to direct feature films, but I have this sort of loyalty to The Lost City to do it first.”
While he won’t divulge many details about the film, Garcia does say that he was motivated to find a story in which he could highlight the culture, music and artistry of late-’50s Havana, prior to the revolution. In addition, he says it’s a story about impossible love and the tragedy of exile. He’s quick to mention that some of his Hollywood friends, such as Robert Duvall and Dustin Hoffman, have expressed a desire to be in the film, but with the financing almost in place, their participation will depend on their schedules. “If the movie gods are willing, we will be filming The Lost City this summer,” says Garcia.
It will be another stage in a career that began shortly after he entered Miami-Dade Community College South Campus in 1974. Garcia had acted in community theater as a child, but “I wasn’t all that adept at it,” he says. He focused on athletics: baseball and then basketball. But he caught mononucleosis and had to sit out from sports for nearly a year. “My freshman year in college, I took an acting class and it refueled my interest in it,” he says. He continued to study acting, first at Florida International University and then in Los Angeles.
His first break was a small but pivotal part in The Mean Season. “That was the role that took me away from waiting tables and doing things other than acting,” Garcia says. He then scored a role as a villainous kingpin opposite Jeff Bridges’s alcoholic ex-cop in Hal Ashby’s 1986 film 8 Million Ways to Die, which he says got him noticed in the film industry. After seeing him in that film, veteran director Brian De Palma cast Garcia in The Untouchables, which was the final piece of the puzzle. “That film showed the industry that I could be a marketable commodity,” he says, “and that opened up a lot of choices for me as an actor.”
Independent cinema, however, has been the lifeblood of Garcia’s more than 20-year career. He enjoys donning a producer’s cap for many of the independent films he makes and he finds it fulfilling to collaborate with directors.
“I want the movie to exist and then see what happens,” Garcia says. “Real success, as William Saroyan says, is that it exists. The real success is that you’ve been able to create the film.”
As he talks about his personal projects, Garcia’s speech picks up speed. His voice becomes charged and he stares intently across the table. “I’m not trying to be in the Forbes 500. I’ve made a comfortable living. I’m financially secure. I don’t need to go to work for cash…sometimes the movies that you are the most proud of are the least commercial of the films you do.”
There’s another element, too, even more personal perhaps. His devotion to the independent film world, and his desire to do more directing and producing, has meant that he can control his commitments and limit the time away from his family. “I can fit it around my schedule…you’re more on your own time.”
It’s not just lip service to hear Garcia talk about how his life revolves around his family. He’s been married to Marivi Lorido Garcia since 1982. The couple has three daughters, Dominik, Daniella and Alessandra, and a little boy, Andrés, who turned two in January. Only twice in the last 20 years has he been away from them for longer than five days. Once was for Black Rain, when Maria was pregnant with their second daughter and he spent four weeks in Japan filming the thriller with Michael Douglas; the other time was last summer, when he shot a film about Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani in Romania. The family had actually planned to join him there after Alessandra’s elementary school graduation, but his eldest daughter caught mononucleosis. By then, Garcia had shot one week of the film, returned to the United States for the graduation, and realized that Romania wasn’t going to be a great place for the family.
“Generally, we all go or I pass,” Garcia says. “Certain movies deserve packing everybody up and going, and other movies it’s just not worth it. Life is what happens while you’re making movies, and the life is your children.”
His personal projects also reflect an abiding bond with the land of his birth. He was born Andrés Arturo García Meñendez in Havana, Cuba, on April 12, 1956, and fled with his family to Miami in 1961 with not much more than the clothes on their backs. “We had to borrow a dime when we got there to make a phone call at the airport to call a relative living in Miami,” Garcia says. That link to Cuba has involved Garcia in one of his most passionate pursuits, Cuban music, and led to his collaboration with the world-famous Cuban bass player Cachao. Garcia has filmed two documentaries about and released several CDs with the musician, who is 85. One recording won a Grammy award in 1994 and a second was nominated for a Grammy in 1995. Garcia recently finished the second film about the making of a new Cachao CD, which was composed and recorded in 36 hours—three days of 12-hour sessions. Garcia even played conga drums on some of the tracks. The film is scheduled to be released in April.
Those Cuba-related projects are Garcia’s way of keeping the memory of Cuba alive. “I’m a Cuban, or more specifically, I’m Cuban American, and I’m proud of it. I have the benefit of two great cultures and I love both of them,” Garcia says. But that reality of his dual roots doesn’t diminish his feelings toward Cuba. “The tragedy of exile is exile. We didn’t come as immigrants. We came as political exiles. You are always at a loss for the one thing you most cherish, the country you were born in.”
Cuba’s political system and particularly Fidel Castro receive nothing but scorn from Garcia. Although not a radical activist in the Cuban-American community, Garcia nevertheless holds very sharply defined beliefs about the Cuban leader. “The great hypocrisy of the Cuban regime is that the Cuban revolution has never fulfilled its promise. The Cuban revolution was not a Marxist-Leninist revolution. It was motivated and financed by the middle and upper class, the intellectuals, the people who were embarrassed by the lack of pluralism in the [Fulgencio] Batista regime, his corrupt government and his abolishing to a great degree of the Cuban constitution,” Garcia says.
He argues that Castro betrayed the 26 July Movement’s basic principles, including the restoration of the constitution, democracy, elections and the understanding that its members would not seek political office. He says that within a year Castro had imposed his personal agenda on the revolution, and then quickly consolidated power by eliminating or imprisoning his rivals. “There’s been a huge betrayal of humanity there. There have been a lot of atrocities against human beings and human rights in Cuba for 40 years,” Garcia says.
Garcia also echoes one of the themes of America’s Cuban exile population, that the embargo against Castro should not be lifted until Castro is held accountable for his human rights record. “There are two embargoes that need to be lifted. Yes, America’s embargo on Cuba, but Castro needs to lift the embargo of human rights for the Cuban people,” Garcia says. He acknowledges that hard-liners exist in the exile community who emphatically state that they will never make a deal with the devil. “But who stops it? Fidel…he’s the first one who doesn’t want the embargo lifted, because for now he still has his enemy and he can blame the United States for all his troubles.”
Technically, Garcia has never set foot on Cuban soil since he left in 1961, but he did visit the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay in 1995 to take part in a concert with fellow Cuban-American Gloria Estefan for 16,000 refugees who had fled Cuba but failed to reach the U.S. mainland. “Oh, I was definitely in Cuba. The only word I can find is it was ethereal. You could hear the wind blow,” Garcia says. His voice fades away as he struggles for a more detailed description of what it was like to be there.
“To me it’s all a great tragedy. It is a very sad thing. All you can hope is that someday it will change. I think there are people there who want it to change, but in order to survive in that society, you have to have two faces,” Garcia says. “Why were we dealt this black card of destiny? The island doesn’t deserve it. The people don’t deserve [it]. But unfortunately, we are in a bit of a standstill…there’s nothing that will happen until he [Castro] dies.”
Besides Garcia’s love of Cuba and its music, he also enjoys smoking premium cigars on special occasions. “My grandfather smoked cigars until he died and my father smoked cigars and cigarettes when he was younger. It was just part of Cuban culture,” Garcia says. “I try to be moderate about it because I really don’t want a chain cigar habit.”
His favorite smokes include Cuban Montecristos and the Dominican Fuente Fuente OpusX. “I’ve had the Montecristo No. 5 leadoff, followed by No. 4 batting second, the No. 2 bats third, and then in the cleanup spot, I have the OpusX,” Garcia says.
“I smoke because of the camaraderie of it. It’s a cultural thing ultimately, and it taps into your subconscious,” Garcia says, as he puffs on an A. Fuente Don Carlos. “There’s a certain companionship because it’s part of the culture I grew up in. It’s about sharing more than anything else.”
Another pastime is golf, which Garcia became obsessed with when he rediscovered the game in 1985. But he found that he didn’t have enough time to play to earn a single-digit handicap. “I have a 10 handicap now, which isn’t bad for a weekend golfer,” Garcia says. “But I have to start playing here because I’m going to the AT&T Pebble Beach in a few weeks.” He’s been paired with Paul Stankowski for the last four years, ever since they won the pro-am part of the tournament the first year they played together. “We haven’t made the cut since,” he says.
The actor first picked up a club when he was young and living in Miami Beach. “It was during the time of Arnie’s Army, and some of the kids bought clubs, so we all bought clubs,” says Garcia. “We used to sneak out before the course opened in the morning to save the $1.50 greens fee,” he adds with a laugh.
He’s laughing because the clandestine rounds tell all anyone needs to know about the reality of his childhood in Miami. He remembers that all his friends had odd jobs, scrambling to make pennies. His older brother, Rene, worked for Murf the Surf, a legendary Miami Beach figure, who, according to Garcia, ran the pools at several of the old Art Deco hotels along 71st Street and Collins Avenue. “My brother used to go there before school, lay out the mattresses for the tourists, go to school, come back in the afternoon and pick up the mattresses,” Garcia says. “He used me to pick up cigarette butts with those dustpans on a handle, and for that he used to let me swim in the pool.”
Many of the former well-to-do, educated Cuban exiles came to America and ended up working low-paying jobs as busboys or parking lot attendants to help feed and clothe their families, according to Garcia. “It was the spirit of the exile,” Garcia says. His father, Rene, who had been a farmer and a lawyer in Cuba, first worked at a catering business that fed laborers coming home in the evening “because no one had time to cook for themselves,” Garcia says. “And we ate well, too, as a result.” The elder Garcia soon began selling sneakers on consignment and later acquired the distributorship for a sock business that produced a very particular style of almost transparent sock popular in the Cuban community. After selling socks for a while with his father, Andy’s brother started a fragrance business that turned into a multimillion-dollar enterprise, and eventually, both Andy’s father and mother joined the company. Although the original fragrance business was sold, the younger Garcia has started another company in the same industry.
“My father instilled in us a work ethic,” Garcia says. “Everybody in our household had to work.” He recalls leaving high school basketball practice and riding a bus from Miami Beach to Southwest 8th Street where his dad had a small warehouse. Garcia swept the floors before returning home with his father to Miami Beach, usually after 8 p.m. Garcia’s sister, Tessi, is a successful interior designer in south Florida, and Garcia attributes her success to that same family work ethic. “It’s inherent in the Cuban culture, but it’s also inherent in the exile or the immigrant experience. You have the opportunity to move forward, but there’s also the absolute necessity that you have to. You have to provide for your family. When things got tough, we all always had that example of our parents before us.”
Recalling his early years in Florida, the actor says, “That’s why it was a big deal to save the $1.50 greens fee. We didn’t have much. We had to avoid the sprinklers, so you’d wait until the spray had passed by your ball and then you’d run in, hit your ball and get out. To this day, I don’t spend a lot of time over the ball.”
The teenage fascination with golf faded quickly, but while on the set of The Mean Season in 1985, one of Garcia’s costars, Richard Bradford, said he was going to play golf after shooting was done for the day. Garcia recalls saying “Hey, I used to play golf” and tagging along. He was hooked again immediately.
“I still play once a week, and before Pebble Beach, I’ll try to play for four or five days in a row to get some tempo,” Garcia says. “But it’s a beautiful, extraordinary game, and a game you can play by yourself. A lot of times I go out alone, and it’s like a walk with a smoke…to me, it’s more about the experience of moving the ball forward.”
Garcia’s description of how he approaches golf could be applied to the way he approaches life. Going out alone. Taking pleasure in the process. Moving forward. Not worrying about the results so much. That philosophy reflects why so many of his career choices have been independent films in which he has a personal stake, and not so much the surefire big-budget studio productions.
Take his answer to the question about his favorite role. He pauses for a minute and says, “I’d have to say it’s Modigliani,” a film that has been finished but to date has no distributor nor release date. “It’s an interesting experience because of the nature of the film, the independence of the film, financed totally outside the studio system by one person with no distributor, with no involvement by anyone,” Garcia says.
He admits that before Modigliani, his answer would have been Vincent Mancini in The Godfather: Part III.
“When the director [of Modigliani], Mick Davis, first came to me and said, ‘I’m doing this movie and this script about Modigliani,’ I said, ‘I know what kind of life he led. If the script needs work, we’ll work on it,’” says Garcia. “Because of the spirit of Modigliani, who was a free spirit, there was a certain liberty or freedom that I always try to bring to my work. Some parts empower that freedom.
“You are defined by who are, by your choices in life, in all regards, not just in doing movies. What you do. How you conduct yourself. What moral decisions you make. The small decisions in life define you. Who I am as an actor is no mystery. You can interpret or misinterpret it, but it’s all there. I have no regrets of any movie I’ve ever done because the creative process is why I do it, to have relationships with the people who are in the movie.
“You just have to go with it. You have to take that kind of risk. I’m not afraid of risk or failure at all. There is no failure for me,” Garcia says. “Sure, the end result will hopefully live up to your dream of what it could be. But if you don’t attempt something, then you get back to that quote about not reaching. You just can’t have all the knots and loose ends ironed out. Life is not that way. You have to put it out there.
“You have to step on the precipice.”
Andy Garcia: 'Ocean's Twelve'
It may be as disposable as a stick of chewing gum, but critics suggest that Ocean's Twelve is also about as enjoyable. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post employs a different metaphor: "This slickly entertaining sequel is all about savoring eye candy," he writes. Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer compares it with a vacation: "As soon as it's over, and you find yourself back in the harsh light of the workaday world, you'll be hard-pressed to remember what happened. Except that you'll remember enjoying yourself -- immensely." Indeed, Wesley Morris writes in the Boston Globe, "It's so well made and undeniably entertaining it should leap from tall buildings and wear a big 'S' on its chest." Most of the critics do complain perfunctorily about the script -- or the lack thereof. "A fizzy no-brainer" is the way Eleanor Ringel Gillespie describes it in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune suggests that "the improbable plotting is part of the charm." And clearly the critics are charmed by the camaraderie of the multi-million-dollar cast, which includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia and a host of big names in cameo roles. They also bestow much praise on director-cinematographer Steven Soderbergh, alternating his art-film projects with a commercial one the way Frank Sinatra, who starred in the original Ocean's Eleven, did with dramas and comedy/musicals. "When Ocean's Twelve works, it's a blast," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. But Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times is not amused. "A lethargic would-be entertainment as well as a dispiriting vanity project, it is such a misfire that it makes it hard to remember what was special about its predecessor," he writes.
Garcia Denies Creation Of New Rat Pack
Ocean's Eleven star Andy Garcia insists that he and his co-stars - George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon - are not the new Rat Pack. Unlike his predecessors - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. starred in the 1960 original - Garcia is no martini-swilling party hopper, a result of the strong Catholic family upbringing he experienced as a child. The son of an English teacher mother and lawyer father, he and his family left Cuba under Castro's regime to join thousands of other immigrants in Miami in 1961. It meant his parents taking low- paid work, while Garcia junior would collect empty bottles on the beach for cash. Neither Garcia or his older brother or sister complained - for they knew they were in America for a reason. Garcia, who picked up Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his portrayal of Cuban jazz musician Arturo Sandoval, explains, "I'm in exile because my father wanted me to have a voice - a free voice - and that's a freedom I hold very dear."
Garcia Loved Shooting In Las Vegas
Movie star Andy Garcia insist filming Ocean's Eleven was an actor's dream. The Carcia plays casino owner Terry Benedict in the remake co-starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. Garcia says, "I'd go on the set - this is my casino. We were shooting in pit number five, which is sort of the high-end pit, and I'd look around and the place was packed not only with our extras, but beyond that, the casino was functioning so it was really, it was like an actor's dream." But Garcia says he never got a chance to gamble while he was there. "I like to play blackjack here and there, but it was odd that when I left, I said 'You know what? I never sat down at a table, '" he says. He adds, "I guess I was delusional enough to know that it was my casino - why would I sit down at my own table?"
Andy Garcia: Ocean's Eleven
For a movie that appeared to be assembled on the names of its stars, Ocean's Eleven is receiving some mighty impressive notices -- far better than the 1960 original, in fact. Jay Carr, writing in the Boston Globe, notes that Frank Sinatra, who starred along with his Rat Pack buddies in the original, once sang that love can be better the second time around. "[He] might have added that sometimes movies are, too," Carr Notes. None of the major critics gives the film a four-star review, but some come close. Kenneth Turan comments in the Los Angeles Times: "Ocean's Eleven is a champagne bubble of a movie, lively, effervescent and diverting. If it bursts earlier than we'd like -- and it does -- that takes nothing away from the considerable pleasure it provides along the way." The cast, which includes George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac, Andy Garcia, Elliott Gould, and Carl Reiner, receives many critical compliments. "[The movie] depends on hard work and movie star combustion and gets by because the actors bring verve and professionalism to the enterprise," comments Elvis Mitchell in the New York Times. But the critics reserve most of their praise for director Steven Soderbergh. "Once again, Mr. Soderbergh shows his grace at spinning a beguiling cobweb," says Phillip Wuntch in the Dallas Morning News., while Carrie Ricket observes in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "Actors, I think, do such high-level work for Soderbergh because ... he serves as cameraman, and thus establishes more intimate rapport with his performers." Peculiarly, both of Toronto's newspaper critics were the only major North American reviewers not to join the wave of acclaim for Ocean's. Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail remarks that Soderbergh has converted "a paltry failure into a paltry success," while Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star concludes his review this way: "The overwhelming impression left by the movie is relief at its conclusion. You're glad that it's over, as it means you're finally free to go have some fun. If a job ever felt like a job, this is it."
Andy Garcia To Embark On New Latino Project
Andy Garcia is again returning to his Latin roots, signing up to be executive producer of a TV movie about the life of a Cuban-American doctor. The picture, by Home Box Office (HBO), is based on Doctor Pedro Jose Greer's 1999 memoir Waking Up In America: How One Doctor Brings Hope To Those Who Need It Most. Greer founded Miami's Camillus Health Concern, a downtown clinic that treats the poor and homeless. This will mark Garcia's second Latino-themed project for HBO - the first being last year's For Love Or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, a film based on the famed Cuban trumpeter's life, which earned Garcia a 2001 Golden Globe nomination. Garcia is currently filming Ocean's Eleven opposite a star-studded cast.